Creative talents of Swansea College of Art lecturers showcased at exhibition in Venice


Two lecturers from UWTSD’s Swansea College of art have been selected for an international exhibition held during the architectural Venice biennale.

SURFACES FESTIVAL will be presented in Venice at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi and THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space until November 25 and other prestigious venues and historical buildings, during the same period of the BIENNALE ARCHITETTURA 2018 – 16th International Architecture Exhibition, titled FREESPACE, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, chaired by Paolo Baratta, and hosted at the Giardini and the Arsenale, and around other venues in Venice.

Surfaces Festival is organised and curated by Arch and consists of 3 main exhibitions: BODIES (May 25 – July 12, 2018), PLACES (July 27 – September 13, 2018), SPACES (September 28 – November 25, 2018), focused on different themes, an Experimental division dedicated to video-art and performing art and the Venice Architecture Academy.

The BODIES structure is a research about the human physical identity, conceived not only as a material organic system, but also as an evolving organism with peculiar sensations, feelings and characteristics, in constant connection with other bodies and spaces. The human body connects us to the world.

The festival focuses on the concept of SURFACES, borders and structures between body, mind and soul, the human identity and the city, the space and the ground. The festival analyses the idea of human and urban places, how people live them and how they are modified in contemporary society. Every human being lives in a world in which surfaces shape their attitudes and behaviours, limiting freedom and creating a sense of alienation. The man reacts breaking the limits and finding a new way of life. We imagine a world of “liquid bodies and cities“, where differences create new possibilities, developing new structures, physical, intellectual and spiritual. The festival aims to analyse the relationship between body and space, and the hybridization between identities and cultural/physical/social/urban settings in contemporary time.

Tim stokes and Anna Lewis work together on the Art & Design Foundation Course teaching and facilitating across many courses within the Faculty. Their art practice borders upon the same themes and ideas and they often collaborate and support each other making artwork.

Anna Lewis is an artist and designer maker based in Wales working in contemporary jewellery and fashion object.  Anna also takes the creations she makes forward and extends her ideas using photography and film.

Tim works as a technical creative and supports a range of diverse projects, working with other artists and designers. His personal work is time-based using animation, video and performance. His work has been shown across the UK and also in Germany and Brazil.

In the Surfaces Festival Exhibition in Venice the photographic work by Anna, and the video work by Tim, both have a lot in common with one another. Anna created sculpted headpieces and a theatrical set for her performers, and Tim played around with creating a substance or mixture for his performers to wear.

Both works seek to address issues of relationships, connection or disconnection between individuals. Their art considers the body within spaces, the manipulation of the body, storytelling and ideas of identity. 

Anna said: "We are both thrilled to be taking part in this exhibition, the theme fits so well with both of our work, it’s also lovely to share this opportunity with one of my closest friends and colleagues. Many thanks to Swansea College of Art for all their support.”

Tim added: "The opportunity to exhibit together has really affirmed how similar our creative ideas are, and how we approach our artwork. The pieces in the exhibition work really well alongside one another, it’s great that we have both been chosen to take part.”

Tim describing his work:

"The video works going into the exhibition have evolved from experimenting with making sticky, strange and slimy substances. If was quite fun to make different thicknesses, seeing how it moved. When I found a mix that worked I would then use them like a second skin to play or interact with the body. I am really curious as to how they change and transform the body, how they cover or overwhelm, and in some cases threaten to consume it. It makes the body look like something other – or at least not itself; the body becomes the material, just like a moving sculpture. The slimy substance I’ve used morphs their bodies into one mass as they connect and then maps the space between them as they pull apart - I'm interested in the monstrous creations the bodies form using the material. And also how it serves as metaphor for the way we connect to other people, for relationships.”

Anna describing her work:

“The piece is about phobia, much like the uncanny, it becomes a scene of a haunting of the familiar, an in-between state, at the very border of death. The scene in the photographs becomes otherworldly, a claustrophobic space where the distance has collapsed to 50 and 30cm gaps.  Is this a protective boundary in which we try to hide or is it a prison we try to fold out of in order to escape? The room in the photographs is familiar but strange at the same time, turned upside down; the interiority is unknown destabilizing our perception of reality. The bodies look awkward, reversed, defying gravity. The faces of the performers are covered with wearable masks I have created from feathers, they deny sight and speech. The performers are therefore both in darkness and light, one cannot exist without the other, and they can’t exist without one another.”

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